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SSX 3 Package Art
†GENRE
††Extreme-Sports
†DEVELOPER
††EA Canada
†PUBLISHER
††EA Sports BIG
†NUMBER OF PLAYERS
††1-2
†CONNECTIVITY
††yes
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SSX 3

SSX 3 is the third entry in the extreme snowboarding series that started in 2000 with the original SSX title on the PS2. This installment expands upon the series like no other. While it hasnít really changed the fundamentally insane gameplay elements, itís allowed the series to grow and expand. With a chance to explore an entire mountain with three huge peaks and participate in several different challenges ranging from races to freestyle matches, SSX 3 is easily one of the greatest titles of its kind. The game still makes novice players feel at home while fans of the SSX series should definitely be excited.

Before starting your quest to become Snowboarder Extraordinaire, you must choose your alter ego out of ten possible boarders. Fans of the series will immediately recognize old favorites like Zoe, Elise, Kaori, Psymon, Moby, Nate and Mac while still enticed by newcomers Allegra, Griff, and Viggo. It doesnít matter who you choose, though, as they all start with the clothes on their backs and stats that are slightly embarrassing. So begins the journey.

visuals

To say that SSX 3 looks beautiful would definitely be an understatement. This game is just plain sexy in design, execution and overall flow. Watching the snow glisten as the sunlight reflects across its surface just sends shivers down your spine. Before you know it, youíre seeing some of the most impressive snow and slush effects ever seen in a videogame. Flakes of snow spin across your board as your character shreds through acres of beautiful frozen water. There are so many different types of snow, just like on a real peak. Mostly youíll be riding on the freshly fallen slush, which is surrounded by deeper, thicker snow that slows down your momentum. Thereís also firmly packed snow that forms patches of ice, which really make your board go crazy, allowing some sweet maneuvers.

The level design is perfect compared to the past entries in the series. Instead of different slopes and levels found in Tricky, the player will start on one gigantic mountain that has three different peaks. Each peak has different racetracks and freestyle areas. Each race area, super pipe, slope, big air... everything is increased in complexity every time you go to a different, more advanced peak. Another improvement has to be the character models. Not only are they extremely well polished, but theyíve also been enhanced and animated to no bounds. Zoeís ďdangerousĒ pigtails wave ever more frantically the faster you go and the transitioning animations between combo tricks have been improved upon so well that it runs completely smoothly. The frame rate is delicious and any slowdown canít be detected, even when going 80+ miles an hour, practically falling off the steep mountain slopes.

audio

One of the things that really works for the game is the EA Radio Big concept. Usually, Iíve been rather annoyed by the MTV style of announcing the next song on the playlist in past EA titles like NBA Street Vol 2, but the live coverage DJ makes for an excellent, well organized and unique representation of a radio station. You feel as if you are Psymon and you have a pair of headphones listening to the live coverage of the SSX circuit while he plays up some tracks with intros by either the DJ himself or even sound clips from the band. For example, Fischerspooner will introduce his own song while it begins playing. The flow not only works for the music, which is excellent by the way, but for the overall gaming experience as well. Another thing worth mentioning is the voice acting which, despite the lack of celebrity voices like David Arquette in SSX Tricky, still gets the job done admirably. The sound effects are nicely produced, especially the sound of your boards scraping across the icy loops and ground surfaces. Grinding also sounds great and is nearly spot-on.

gameplay

One of the greatest features in SSX 3 is the feeling of exploration and a slightly increased sense of freedom. The SSX tournament is held on one huge mountain, which is separated into three different peaks. Each peak has an increased level of difficulty and as mentioned, each event becomes more and more complicated in design and execution. In order to progress to the next event, the player free rides down towards any of the desired courses, which are marked by signs and mile markers. You can also transport yourself to a desired course or even rest up at a lodge where you can purchase gear, upgrade your stats, or buy secret characters, art, and other unlockables. In order to buy things, youíll have to win cash in events or earn it by pulling off some tricks. Each trick earns 1-20 bucks, no matter how insane or impossible it might be.

There are several events to participate in throughout each peak. Some events are the simple race set ups wherein you race against five competitors in order to reach the finish and win the gold. The racetracks are huge and some last anywhere between three and five minutes. There are also Peak races that take place down each entire peak. Peak 1 lasts about 10-13 minutes while Peak 3 will last an entire half hour. Thatís right, a 30-minute ride from the summit to the bottom of the peak. All of this with no loading times or slowdown, and an increasing amount of depth and insanity. The freestyle events donít measure how quickly you finish the event but rather how stylish you are. In order to win the gold, youíll have to perform the most and the greatest tricks of all the other competitors. Youíll be the only one on the track so youíve got the whole course to yourself. Freestyle events branch from half-pipes to ďbig airĒ jumps to slope style that challenges your rider to pass several different obstacles in order to expand their combos and take the gold.

The controls are beautifully fluid, that is once you get used to them. The learning curve on this title is difficult, especially if you havenít played an SSX title before. While some may prefer the PS2 shoulder buttons, I actually find that the GameCubeís control scheme adds a sort of strategic flow in the maneuvering of your character. Executing a trick is as easy as pressing a combination of shoulder buttons along with the tweak button and even performing flips and turns with the d-pad. It may sound complicated, and it is, but once you get it down, youíll be increasing your trick meter in no time. Once your trick meter is decked out, youíll start performing uber tricks, then super uber tricks, until your meter is completely maxed out and youíll be able to boost as much as you want for a limited amount of time. The trick system makes SSX 3. Buying ever more uber tricks for your character brings the replay value up several notches. Plus, if you own the GBA version, you'll be able to transfer your earnings between the two versions. Once you unlock everything for every rider, even every rider you only personal dislike, youíll be running up game times of up to 20-50 hours.

multiplayer

You can play through any event that has been unlocked in the Conquer the Mountain mode with up to two players. While the PS2 version gets online play, itís still fun to play in split screen, especially since the frame rate never takes a hit. More gameplay modes like Horse or Tag would have been a lot of fun, but thereís always room for improvement in any multiplayer mode. As it stands, this is an excellent multiplayer experience, especially if your friend has been building up his or her own character in order to square off with yours.

overall

SSX 3 is easily one of my favorite games of the year and Iíll probably be playing it well into next year as well. Itís definitely easy to mention that SSX 3 is the best snowboarding title out there and will definitely be giving 1080 Avalanche a run for its money this holiday season. If youíve been a fan of the series, youíll undoubtedly have already picked up this title and good on ya, mate! If youíve ever played an SSX title or have even been vaguely interested, check it out. If youíve played Tony Hawk and might be looking for something to hold your interest after playing through Underground a couple of times, check out SSX 3. While it has a few development faults, thereís nothing that should hold you back from checking this one out.

Now if youíll excuse me, Iíve got to go purchase the Guillotine uber trick for Zoe.

final score 9.5/10





WRITER INFORMATION
Staff Avatar Austin Starr
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"If life's not beautiful without the pain / well I'd just rather never ever even see beauty again"


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